Friday, November 30, 2007

Ahhh, December!

Can you believe it's the last day of November? Thanksgiving has come and gone and we've got our Christmas decorations out. I just put up the lights around the rain gutter and it looked very plain and boring. LW really brought it to life though and did an awesome job with the garland with a strand of lights around the posts in front of our house, plus some red bows, red ornaments, two lit-up penguins, and a submarine wreath on our front door.

Here are three of my favorite things about this time of year (not in any particular order):

- Handel's Messiah. I have mentioned before how military brats can generally place a memory within one or two years' timespan because they remember what house (or church) they were in. The first time I remember hearing Handel's Messiah and it registering in my brain what I was listening to was at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Pedro, CA. So that had to have been 3rd or 4th grade when we lived in the San Pedro Navy Housing.

A lot of people just think of this as the "Hallelujah" chorus, but it's sooo much more than that. To be quite honest, the Hallelujah chorus is kind of over-played. It's nice, but so many people use it as a "sound bite" you hear it all the time. I have several almost-favorite parts, but my absolute favorite is the "For Unto Us a Child is Born" in the middle of Part I.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given:
And the government shall be upon His shoulder:
And His name shall be called
Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
I first became familiar with Handel because of my parents singing in the church choir growing up. For several years now, my mom has sung for the San Diego Master Chorale (picture above). It's been a wonderful treat for me on a handful of occasions to attend some of her Messiah performances in San Diego.

- The Nutcracker. In addition to my parents, I was very blessed to have the influence of my Grandma Kay and Grandpa Ernie on my upbringing. They loved the fine arts and always took me to see performing arts and museums. It's through my grandparents that I learned an appreciation for classical music and Gilbert & Sullivan musicals.

I don't remember exactly when I started going to see the Nutcracker, but it was sort of a Christmas-season tradition for me up through college. LW doesn't care for the ballet much, but she appeased me and went with me to see the Boston Ballet perform The Nutcracker when we got engaged, and it was awesome.

I think in another couple of years I may try to take the boys to see it. I don't think they'd understand it or sit still through it just yet.

- The Army-Navy football game. I am like Bubblehead in that I didn't go to the Naval Academy, but I love the Army-Navy football game. I think I've actually been to the game four times now...
- 1986: My dad took me to my first Army-Navy football game when they played at the Rosebowl, and it was AWESOME.
- 1995: My roommates during prototype in Charleston were USNA grads, and I went with Nate to the game in Philadelphia.
- 1997: Just after we got engaged, LW and I went to the game at Giant Stadium with our friends Chris and Cath (Cath's younger brother was a mid then).
- 2005: I took ES to his first Army-Navy game two years ago in Philadelphia with my friend and former stateroom-mate, Rich.

ES's class mascot "Wings" at the 2005 Army-Navy Game. Each kid in the class got to take Wings home for a weekend and write in a journal about what they did over the weekend, so we took him to the Army-Navy Game.

Me and ES at the 2005 Game (we froze our butts off and had to leave early before poor ES turned into a popsicle).

I love all the tradition and ceremony of the game. The midshipmen and the cadets all march into the stadium. Then you get flyovers by jets and helicopters, and guys will parachute in with the flag for the national anthem. Then they have the exchanging of the prisoners. A handful of cadets go to Annapolis and some mids go to West Point as exchange students each semester. Before the game begins though, they get returned to their home team in an "exchanging of the prisoners ceremony" on the football field.

Exchanging of the Prisoners Ceremony

Each time either team scores, they shoot their cannon or artillery piece and all the plebes do pushups. If the President is there, he starts the game sitting on one side of the field rooting for one team, then at halftime, they have a ceremony where he crosses the field to sit with the other side and rooting for the other team. There are great fight songs the mids sing like, "Gooooooo Migh-ty Na-vy, Go! Go! Migh-ty Na-vy!" and "Go - Navy - Go! Beat Army!"

Unfortunately, you don't get all the ceremony and tradition when you watch it on TV. I still like to watch the game though. That being said, it's time to set the DVR to record it in case I don't wake up in time, and then it's time to hit the rack.


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